December 19, 2003
Now that Seattle's entrenched political class (including the suburban owner/editors of the Seattle Times) managed to kill district elections for city council once more, I remain represented by a collection of nine equally (un)responsive at-large councilmembers. So whom do I contact when I have a problem, question, complaint, or (dare I hope ) compliment for the city council? I contact Peter Steinbrueck.
Why do I contact Peter Steinbrueck? There are four reasons.
a) As a tax-paying homeowner and businessman, I'm at the bottom of the list of every at-large councilmember's dream-team electoral coalition. (Seattle's government exists (a) to serve senior citizens, the disabled, renters, the homeless, non-profit agencies and (b) for the delight and convenience of city employees and their unions. Taxpayers are permitted to live here only so we can pay our fair share). So I don't expect any of the other councilmembers to be any less unenthusiastic about getting my phone calls than Peter Steinbrueck would be.
b) Peter Steinbrueck was one of the councilmembers who were most adamantly opposed to district elections, presumably because as an at-large councilmember he thinks it is easier to ignore people who disagree with him. Peter Steinbrueck can ignore me if he wants to, but I won't ignore Peter Steinbrueck and Google won't ignore me.
c) As Council President, Peter Steinbrueck is an obvious poster-child for the city council's latte-brained Soviet-style anti-economic policies and its equally Soviet-like "consensus" system. For example, although Steinbrueck said he opposed mandatory recycling during the recent campaign, he joined this week's unanimous Politburo vote to impose mandatory recycling -- A victory for mindless over-regulation AND mindless consensus, with bonus points for duplicity!
d) Peter Steinbrueck appears to be the councilmember most likely to go on to higher office. If my attention and feedback can either (a) help Peter Steinbrueck improve the quality of his work product, or failing that (b) help drive Peter Steinbrueck out of public office, I will have performed a valuable service for the People of Seattle.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at December 19, 2003 05:02 PM
I wonder if Seattle is less racially divided than other American cities, or if its minority population is rather low? Usually, if the black people are sufficiently concentrated in particular tracts, and the whites in others, then both sides will seek district representation (particularly if they have a history of not getting along).
I was born in Seattle. I grew up in the southern part of town and went to Rainier Beach High School. After attending the University of Washington, I moved to the east side with no regrets. To me, Seattle is one of those places that is nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. With crappy schools that never seem to improve, loopy representatives debating the benefits of removing the Snake River Dams, an anti-business climate, and an electorate that wants two fixed rail transit systems, I voted with my feet with no regrets. Stefan, I appreciate your passion for reform, but patient has no heart beat and is brain dead.
You sure pegged Steinbrueck. Fatuousness personified. He actually sent a staff member to testify before the King Co. Council last week in favor of imposing a domestic partner benefits requirement on those wanting to contract with the county, it passed along party lines; Ds favoring, Rs opposed (except for Jane Hague).
The testimony on this issue was notable for the absence of ANY testimony from a person who would actually be benefited by the proposal. . . this didn't stop many from the professional or near professional activist corp. from showing up to demand this addition to law. And, of course, the poor business people who showeed up to oppose the measure (who would be directly affected) were told by such Olympian business minds as Dwight Pelz that providing such benefits would actually HELP their business. Such omniscience!
That's just hilarious. A Google search of his name puts you third, one up on the guy's own campaign site.
One thing about the internet: it certainly is easier for selfish people to blather on ad nauseum about their opinions... So let me offer my, perhaps less ungenerous view of life: healthcare for all, richer people SHOULD pay more taxes, there are plenty of homeowners and business people out there who want to do right by their communities, and fighting poverty and homelessness is a good thing. In the spirit of this season, I don't think I can say how I feel about your comments better than Dr. Seuss could: "It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."
That's very big of you, Cate. Being generous with other people's money is the sign of having a really big heart.
Hmmm. Other people's money. Well, let's see... I pay taxes just as you do, and then vote for the people I feel will apportion my taxes as I would want them to. Sometimes that works out for me and sometimes it doesn't, but I still don't begrudge the taxes. The idea of paying money to the government is that the government then applies that money to the "greater good." Now, I would argue that the "greater good" is served by building roads, funding schools, and helping those less fortunate than I am, among other things.
I called you selfish (essentially), because having read several pieces of your blog it is not apparent to me that your ruminations on such things go much beyond how they affect you, personally, or people exactly like you, and that is not a generous point of view, whatever else it may be.
I may be entirely wrong, of course, since I don't know you personally--but that is how you come across in writing, and I wanted you to know that.
Cate, I agree that reducing poverty and homelessness are important. I have no idea why you seem to believe that I don't. You seem to confuse goals with means and you are stuck in the simple-minded paradigm that believes that redistribution of (other people's) wealth is both compassionate and a solution to social ills. I am simply pointing out the flaws in your mindset and suggesting more productive ways to address social problems.
Then how, exactly, do you propose to "reduce poverty and homelessness"? I ask because nothing in your blog makes that clear. In terms of the public good, you do talk some about charter schools (a topic we are not really at odds on), but mostly you seem to kvetch about "Whining and Moaning" on the part of people who are expressing opinions different than your own, or griping about government intervention (such as in the recycling story).
Yet you offer in those blog entries, no reasonable alternative to those proposals. This can only lead me to believe that those things are not important to you, and THAT I don't understand (call that a flaw in my "mindset" if you must). Furthermore, if the "means" you propose involve a throwback to a time when there was no safety net at all for people (pre-depression) then I'm afraid I'd rather be confused. It's not just the working poor who are "on the edge"--many middle class Americans are just a job loss away from big trouble.
If that isn't what you mean and you have better ways to spend my money, then terrific, and fight the good fight to change things on my behalf--I wish you well.
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Peter Steinbrueck’s Remarks Seattle City Council Swearing-in Ceremony January 5,
2004 Public Service is a very demanding job, with many personal sacrifices. But rewards are also great, and I can think of no higher calling. My deepest thanks to my family – My wife and children, my Brothers, Sisters, Mother and father—I love you all and appreciate all the support and encouragement you’ve given me throughout the years... With the many challenges and conflicts in public life we are as elected officials at times faced with difficult dilemmas that can really test our mettle. In performing my duties of public service, I follow three simple, guiding principles: When having to make tough choices-- Let your conscious be your guide.In the choices you make-- Strive for greatest good and least harm.Use the power of office to it’s fullest by helping others, especially those most needy and vulnerable. This means: putting people first over material gain and self-interest. Much thanks to my dedicated office staff... and my many friends and supporters.
Finally, I owe much thanks to the good people of Seattle, who have for the third time, demonstrated their trust and confidence in me by my reelection to public office. It’s truly a great honor and privilege to serve you on the Seattle City Council. Thank you all!